Johannesburg retain Spar national netball title

netball07 October 2023 12:00| © SuperSport
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Johannesburg's winning team @ Netball SA/Reg Caldecott

Johannesburg won the 2023 SPAR National Netball Championships at Hoërskool Rustenburg on Saturday with a pulsating 46-40 victory over Mangaung and retained the title they won in Potchefstroom last year.

Johannesburg got off to a flying start, scoring six goals before the Free State team scored their first.

Mangaung took eight minutes to get on the scoreboard, but then scored four unanswered goals. By the end of the first quarter, Johannesburg led 15-6.

The match was fast and furious, with the ball moving from end to end. Defence on both sides was outstanding. 

Mangaung came back strongly in the second quarter, outscoring the Gauteng team by 14 goals to nine. At halftime, Johannesburg were 24-20 ahead and the third quarter was fairly even, with Mangaung scoring ten goals to nine for Johannesburg.

But in the final quarter, Johannesburg showed why they were champions, winning the quarter by 13 goals to nine. Mangaung threw everything they had into it but to no avail. With memories of their drawn round robin match against Mangaung, Johannesburg made sure that they kept ahead of their opponents.

Coach Dr Elsje Jordaan said they had wanted to get off to a good start and put pressure on Mangaung early on.

“It was a bit of a blitzkrieg and it worked. Scoreboard pressure is something else and it consumes a lot of energy to play catch-up netball,” said Jordaan.

“It almost worked like a fairytale story. They came back strongly in the second and third quarters, but we took control again in the fourth.

“This is the third year of our journey and I believe we are just getting stronger. We have a mixture of youth and experience and will develop from there.” 

Jordaan said the SPAR Netball Championships are very important to South African netball.

“It’s the oldest tournament and it’s very hard.  Up to 10 matches in a week and it can be very tiring. But it’s good to be involved in a tournament that includes players who will never play at senior A level.  There’s a tremendous spirit, and we play for those players as well.”

Netball South Africa President Cecilia Molokwane said she was happy that the SPAR Proteas had not been part of the tournament.

“It’s good for netball. There’s a lot of talent that we have identified in the absence of the national players,” said Molokwane. 

“It’s been a very hot week, but it’s been a week of fun, of good netball and of identifying talents – not just the players, but coach and officials as well,” she said.

Earlier, Dr Kenneth Kaunda narrowly beat Cape Winelands 53-52 in the play-off for the third place bronze medal.